After 72 rounds of chemo, Poppy, 3, gets green light for treatment that could save her life


A BRAVE tot who has endured 72 rounds of chemotherapy for a brain tumour has been given the go-ahead for pioneering treatment in the US.

Three-year-old Poppy Martin was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis when she was just 16 months and has already lost sight in one eye.

The genetic condition causes tumours to grow on her nerve endings and has also caused her to develop a tumour behind her right eye, which cost her her sight.

Since her diagnoses her mother, Elle Martin has desperately been searching for treatment that can help save her daughter’s life.

Now, the 22-year-old from Whitstable, Kent, was given the incredible news that Poppy is eligible for proton beam therapy in Jacksonville, Florida. Fund-raising efforts have so far generated £50,000 but another £250,000 is needed to meet the bill.

The family of Poppy’s father Robbie Shields, a soldier from Hawick in the Scottish Borders, have also been holding events north of the border to help meet the target.

The positive development comes just months after doctors in Baltimore, Maryland told the family they wouldn’t be able to operate on Poppy because her tumour was too big.

Speaking today (wed) Elle said: “We actually got the news on Friday the 13th. We had travelled to Wales for a private consultation about the treatment and were just relieved when they said Poppy was eligible.

Poppy has been through 72 rounds of chemo, and has now been accepted for pioneering new treatment in the US

“Baltimore said last year surgery wasn’t an option and she would be blind in both eye and probably have brain damage so the news on Friday was just the answer we were looking for.

“We’ve had so many setbacks and it really kicks you down so to be told she met all the requirements for the treatment is great.

“She’s doing okay at the moment and is at nursery so she’s loving that. She got into a habit saying her eyes were hurting and smacking her face but that seems to have calmed down a bit now.

“We just need to raise the money now. As soon as we have that, we would be able to start treatment within weeks so we are hoping we can raise the rest of the money from now until June.

“Poppy’s next MRI scan in England is in June so ideally we want to raise it by then as they will be looking into what we do next over here and they don’t offer the proton beam therapy that Poppy needs.”

Sharing an update on Facebook on Saturday, Elle said: “We have attended a private consultation to find out if poppy hits the necessary requirements to make her an eligible candidate for proton beam therapy.

“We have left with the amazing news that Poppy is eligible for the treatment!

“This will be a six week daily course or proton beam therapy, (radiation) under general anaesthetic.

Neurofibromatosis has caused Poppy to lose sight in one eye

“Poppy’s treatment will potentially be carried out in Jacksonville, Florida as they share care with the Royal Marsden Hospital here in the UK who Poppy is currently under.

“To make this as easy going as possible, the things I will need to pay for consist of the treatment in full, daily general anaesthetic, aftercare and recovery, MRI scans, accommodation, flights, 5% on top of target for JustGiving service fee.

“This gives us a total of £300,000 still as a safe target, if this total can be minimised in any way I will update as soon as possible.

“The money must be raised in full before we get the go ahead for treatment.Many thanks. Poppy’s Mummy and family.”

Proton beam therapy involves the delivery of tightly focused doses of electrically-charged particles called protons to destroy tumors, with little or no damage to adjacent healthy tissues.

The treatment is an effective way to target tumors in children and has the potential to increase cure rates while reducing complications.

Poppy’s tumour was caused by a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis type 1, which causes an overproduction of cells.

The cruel condition affects just one in 3,000 births and causes usually non-cancerous tumours to grow along nerves.

Neurofibromatosis is the general name for a number of genetic conditions that cause tumours to grow along your nerves.

Last year Elle shared a heartbreaking video showing Poppy’s brave battle since being diagnosed.

The video includes dozens of family photos showing Poppy as she bravely endures the treatment.

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